About 15 years ago, soon after we moved into our present house, we went to a native plant sale and bought a milkweed plant. We planted it in our backyard where it grew, flowered, dispersed its seeds in the wind and then died during the first nite the temperature went below freezing.
Ever since then every spring, the descendants of that first plant sprout at various places in the backyard. They flower throughout the summer, attract monarch butterflies, and die in the fall.
Monarch on milkweed in the backyard.
When there are plenty of seed pods maturing towards the end of the summer, some split open with seeds blowing away, I know that there will be more plants the next spring. But once every 3-4 years, the seeds will sprout late in the spring and by the time the weather starts to cool off in the beginning of October, there will be no ripe seed pods. When that happens, to assure the continuation of the backyard milkweed line, I transplant one plant into a pot and bring it indoors usually a day or two before the season's first frost.
And invariably that plant develops a massive aphid infestation.
Last summer's sole survivor is this pathetic looking plant with stems covered with aphids. I have sprayed it twice with an insecticide, but the aphids recovered after both times. We even resorted to hand picking the tiny insects but to no avail.
What I need is a ladybug or two to devour the little suckers. But I haven't seen any around yet, while the ones in the land down under are apparently still occupied with serious business in the closing weeks of the southern summer.
If my milkweed survives for a couple more weeks, I will plant it outdoors and it will probably recover with a little help from its ladybug friends that should appear by then.